Dan Austin, Sr., president of All Faiths Cemetery on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, successfully fought the $600 fine before the Environmental Control Board. If the cemetery had lost the case, the fine would have ballooned to $1,200, according to Austin.
The cemetery was hit with the summons after Department of Health inspectors found standing water in a vase, which they said could serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and lead to the spread of West Nile virus.
The ticket was issued on the Thursday before Mother’s Day.
"I find that the judge made an intelligent decision, a compassionate decision and respectful decision to all mothers that are interred at All Faiths Cemetery," said Austin.
The city forbids the placing of vases with water at gravesites between the months of May and October. Austin said that he understands the policy – the cemetery even goes so far as to stop watering the grounds during the same time period – but with a staff of only 15 caring for 225 acres and over 225,000 graves, it’s physically impossible to watch all of them.
Austin said he was pleased with the decision.
"My feelings are based not only on the act that the summons was dismissed, but on the genuine compassion that the judge had, relative to this matter," he said. "It was respectful to the religious observance and prayer of all those who visit cemeteries and their dearly departed."